What is Prostate Cancer? Symptoms and Treatment
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In clinical studies, the risk of a 50-year-old man suffering from prostate cancer was calculated as 40%, the probability of being diagnosed as 9.5%, and the risk of death due to this disease as 2.9%.
The prostate gland is the gland tissue that produces part of the semen, i.e. ejaculate, which is created to preserve the viability of sperm, which is the male reproductive cell produced in the testicles and found only in men.
The prostate gland reaches approximately the size of a walnut in an adult man. The size of the cloth is approximately 3 cm. It surrounds the urethra, which is the urinary tract leaving the kidneys in the human body. Its anatomical location begins after the bladder and is located in front of the rectum, the last part of the large intestine. In order for the prostate gland to function fully, the hormone called testosterone, produced by the testicles, must be present in the body. Testosterone is also secreted by the adrenal glands, in very small amounts, apart from the testicles.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The cells that make up the body go through their own unique stages of birth, growth, maturation and death, just like human life. However, if cells continue to multiply and grow even when they are not needed, structures called tumors are formed. If this growth is benign, it does not spread to other parts of the body. Structures called cancer are malignant formations that not only proliferate excessively but also spread to neighboring tissues. Cancers are named after the tissue in which they develop, and if this cancer occurs in the prostate gland, it is called prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men and is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths after lung cancer.
What Causes Prostate Cancer?
While a man’s lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer is 16%, the risk of death due to prostate cancer is 2.9%. The presence of a family member who has had prostate cancer before is one of the most important risk factors. The more men in your immediate family who have prostate cancer, the higher your risk of developing this disease. The risk of prostate cancer increases in smokers. With advancing age, a person’s chances of developing prostate cancer increases. Studies conducted in the United States have reported that prostate cancer is most common in men over the age of 55 and the average age of men diagnosed is 72. When the effect of nutrition on the development of prostate cancer is examined, it has been shown that those who consume foods cooked at high temperatures and those who consume a diet rich in animal fat and red meat have an increased risk of developing this disease. When lifestyle factors are examined, it has been determined that the development of prostate cancer is high in individuals with a high body mass index. The risk of developing prostate cancer is low in men who regularly engage in physical activities such as brisk walking and swimming. Prostate cancer in men who smoke is more aggressive and progresses faster. In addition to regular exercise, nutritional strategies also play an important role in the development of prostate cancer.
As it has been determined that some foods increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, it has become important to plan the nutrition strategy correctly. In particular, limiting the consumption of foods with high fat content and cholesterol-rich foods has an important role in controlling the risk of developing prostate cancer. In addition to the nutrients that increase the risk of prostate cancer, various studies have also shown the existence of nutrients that reduce the likelihood of cancer developing and becoming fatal. The likelihood of fatal prostate cancer decreases in individuals who consume fish regularly. Regular consumption of various vegetables from the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chard, mustard) and the metabolic products of these vegetables in the body ensure the elimination of toxic substances that may cause cancer from the body.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
While prostate cancer does not cause any obvious complaints in the early stages, it causes various symptoms as the disease progresses and the gland enlarges. In the late period, the disease has spread to surrounding organs and tissues and symptoms may occur depending on the organ affected. Weight loss and general weakness, which are common in cancer diseases, are also late symptoms. In the early stages of the disease, as the prostate gland enlarges, the person may experience painful ejaculation during sexual intercourse. In addition to this condition, symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Frequently waking up at night to urinate
- Feeling burning or pain during urination
- Delay in starting to urinate
- Continuing to drip urine after urination
- Inability to urinate at all
- Urination with a weak stream, intermittent urination
- Seeing blood in the urine
- Blood in urine or semen
Although these symptoms are not specific to prostate cancer, it should not be forgotten that they can also occur in the presence of various simpler health problems. Individuals with symptoms should be examined by a urologist to determine the cause of the problem.
What are the Stages of Prostate Cancer?
The purpose of staging is to determine how far the disease has progressed and which organ(s) it has reached, and to ensure that the person receives the most appropriate treatment. Evaluation of whether the cancer is limited to the prostate gland, whether it has spread to regional lymph nodes, or whether it has spread to other organs, called metastasis, is called staging. Depending on the spread of the disease, it is classified as localized stage, locally advanced stage and advanced stage (metastatic) prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Prostate specific antigen, or PSA for short, is the most commonly used marker in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Determining the total level of PSA in the blood, which is a protein that can pass into the person’s bloodstream to a certain extent after being secreted from the prostate, is important in the diagnosis of prostate diseases, but it should be kept in mind that it may also increase in case of benign growth or inflammation of the prostate. Although the reference range of PSA varies depending on age, it is expected to be below 4 ng/ml.
Apart from prostate, PSA has also been detected in low concentrations in normal or malignant breast tissue, adrenal gland and kidney cancers. In people who have complaints about urination, a urinalysis can be requested and the characteristics of the person’s urine and the cell structures it contains can be determined by biochemical analysis. Apart from blood and urine tests, the most important step in the diagnosis of prostate diseases is the anal digital examination, called digital rectal examination. In this way, the size and consistency of the prostate and any nodular formations on it can be determined by the physician. Another diagnostic method is to visualize the features of the internal structure of the gland by inserting an ultrasonography device through the anus. Along with this imaging process, a prostate biopsy is taken for diagnostic purposes when necessary. It is currently recommended that this biopsy process be at least 10 focused.
The progression of prostate cancer is slow in most patients, so some diagnosed patients do not need treatment. Treatment of prostate cancer includes the use of surgery, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment approaches alone or in combination, depending on the condition of the disease. The treatment method frequently used in the early stages of prostate cancer is surgery. The most common side effects after the surgery are urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to have sufficient erection in the penis to initiate and maintain sexual intercourse.